HOLT is a guest-focused luxury rental company started by entrepreneurs Benjamin Earley and Ioana Holt. Not only is HOLT Ioana’s surname, it stands for Helping Others Live & Travel, the company’s motto. Helping others is a mission Benjamin and Ioana have instilled in their team, and it’s the basis for everything they do as a brand.
HOLT began in 2018, an endeavor by two business people who wanted to bring the highest level of accommodation and service to a new age of travelers looking for spaces beyond the boxy hotel rooms. “We are trying to blend the best of both worlds: a 5-star hotel level of care with the unique spaces guests want but can’t get from a hotel brand. Being on the cutting edge of this growing type of travel and accommodation is a challenge, but as long as we keep putting ourselves in our guests’ shoes, they’ll keep coming back and the numbers will take care of themselves,” explains Mr. Earley.
Benjamin got his start in finance, working at prestigious banking firm J.P. Morgan. He founded a DTC men’s shoe brand Paul Evans while still working at the bank. Ioana was a restaurateur, opening her first restaurant in the East Village called Rose & Basil right out of NYU. They met when Benjamin stopped into her restaurant one afternoon, and not long after, they left behind banking, shoes and food to build HOLT together.
From the get-go, Benjamin and Ioana realized that a short term hospitality business would be unlike their previous businesses or jobs: it is a 24 hour enterprise. Benjamin explains that the concept of ‘passive income’ from Airbnbing championed by social media influencers is very out of touch with how the business works in reality. “There’s nothing passive about hundreds of people living, eating, working, and sleeping in your home. The hustle porn obsession on TikTok around passive income I think hurt a lot of overleveraged hosts when the pandemic hit. Hoteling, hosting, Airbnbing, whatever you want to call it now, it’s an incredibly involved business. We see hundreds if not thousands of permutations of the same question or problem or request from guests weekly, monthly, yearly. There are incredible tools available to property managers that help automate the business, but at the end of the day, we prefer people pulling the levers, not timers or triggers or machines.”
HOLT considers itself a technology-forward business, melding traditional and cutting edge softwares and wifi-enabled hardware to create a smooth guest experience, but tries not to rely on technology for the basic tenets of the company: making guests feel right at home. “We could automate 90% of our communications to guests. The industry has done an incredible job building these tools. We can have texts go out when guests punch their door code in welcoming them. We can have an app call them if our party sensor detects unusual activity. We could almost totally avoid speaking to guests at any moment. But that’s not the unique, personalized and enjoyable experience we want to offer to our guests. Every person, trip, group and question is in some way special and unique. We spend countless hours with our service team training on just people-to-people interaction. Much more than on training to use our system or mind-numbing data collection projects.”
HOLT has been built as a business to reflect the realities of the industry it is in. Short term property management carries plenty of risk due to the constant turnover of people coming and going from homes they are unfamiliar with. Due to the high demand in the industry, HOLT is built on allowing their customers to reach them at any given point in time. Every hour, every day and every year, you will be able to talk to the Guest Experience team at HOLT via telephone. Prefer electronic communication? HOLT strives to answer basic email, text, platform messages and even WhatsApp in under 15 minutes. HOLT has professionals working from home all over the world, ensuring that the wheels are turning 24/7.
Amazingly, Ioana insists the customer service actually starts even before first contact. “What sets HOLT apart, from an accommodation offering standpoint, is that we renovate and design our properties soley for short term rental. So guests know when they stay with us, everything is oriented to making sure they are comfortable as someone who may only be with us for 3-4 nights. This comes to play in how we design bedrooms, knowing people are coming with suitcases. Where should outlets be for the Work From Home traveler. Keeping the kitchen simple and efficient, considering the heights of cabinets in case we have a group of short women – Like me! – staying with us. Adding basic safety features like fire extinguishers and exit signage but still keeping it classy and in the spirit of the interior design. We think about the durability of furniture and the type of paints needed to resist scuffs from suitcases. We think about a lot. We hope that guests feel the thoughtfulness and effort, without having to bother them with how the sausage is made.”
Customer care is the name of the game for HOLT. Experience HOLT yourself at www.helloholt.com